Editor’s Note: Welcome to the 2018 first edition of “Is This Poll Serious?!?!” Ryan Conwell has taken over these duties from Connor, but Ryan is still questioning decisions (sometimes his own!) and providing great insight into how an NCAA Media Pollster counts his eggs. We will also be adding in a great weekly D1 lacrosse cartoon from Jim Fenzel to this post, so it’s a two for one deal. NEVER A BAD THING, plus more #Laxcots!
With a new NCAA season, we are bringing back our favorite feature here at Lacrosse All Stars: Is This Poll SERIOUS?!?! A brief refresher here is that while polls are great tools for helping judge teams that have not played each other to understand relative potential, they are at the same time a little crazy, and not predictive! We want to thank Inside Lacrosse for once again giving Lacrosse All Stars a piece of the Media Poll pie again this year. Apparently our ideas haven’t been THAT crazy, since we’ve been welcomed back!
So what you’ll see here are my personal top 20 votes, some sort of description for each team, and a note of where that team stands in the national media poll (which can be found here: https://www.insidelacrosse.com/league/DI/polls). Hopefully it will give you some sort of insight into where my votes are coming from, even though you probably will not agree with it. I barely agree with some of my own picks, but you need to draw the line somewhere. There’s always next week!
In BOLD you can find my Top 20 teams listed in order. I have also included their “Last Week’s” ranking, which in this case, is the preseason poll.
Below that, I’ll cover what games they play this this week, where the team fits in to the National Media Poll Rankings, and then some gibberish from yours truly!
Is This Poll SERIOUS?!?! NCAA 2018 Week 1
1 Albany LW: 1
Games: Did not play.
National Poll: 4
Duke has made the case for #1, but I’ll hold off for another week. If Albany can get their second ever win over Syracuse, that would go a long way to staying here.
2 Duke LW: 2
Games: 18-4 W Vs. Air Force; 18-6 W Vs. High Point U; 19-8 W Vs. Jacksonville
National Poll: 1
No team has looked more impressive than the Blue Devils. Air Force was supposed to put up more of a fight, but just didn’t. The High Point game was not a surprise, but 18 goals is still 18 goals. The 11 point win over Jacksonville was a shock. The Dolphins looked solid in their win over Navy, but Duke was just too much. Slowing down Justin Guterding is looking impossible.
3 Maryland LW: 3
Games: 10-4 W Vs. Navy
National Poll: 2
I would have expected a little bit of a bigger win out of the Terps this week, but I won’t complain. Their strength is in their midfield and it showed. 8 of their 10 goals were out of the mids, and 4 out of their 7 assister were as well. Getting a hat trick out of freshman Bubba Fairman has to be encouraging as they need big things out of the Ute this season.
4 Ohio State LW: 4
Games: 13-6 W Vs. CSU; 15-9 W Vs. BU
National Poll: 6
The Cleveland State game gave me a little pause considering my expectations for the Buckeyes going into the season. But the dominating with over BU erased that. BU is no longer an upstart team and looked very impressive in week one. Ohio State, and especially Tre LeClaire are definitely picking up where they left off in 2017.
5 Denver LW: 5
Games: 11-5 W Vs. AF
National Poll: 3
Denver’s game didn’t exactly follow the script I thought it would, given how much Duke beat up on Air Force. But, playing down the road and in really heavy snow may not be the best indicator of the potential the Pios have. A win is a win for now, and Denver looked like the Pios of old at times.
6 Yale LW: 6
Games: Did not play.
National Poll: 5
7 Notre Dame LW: 8
Games: 10-7 W Vs. Detroit
National Poll: 9
Notre Dame had a back and forth game that should not have been a back and forth game. They never really put together a true run until the fourth quarter, and can absolutely thank Bryan Costabile for the win. He scored big goals when ND needed him most. It wasn’t pretty, but they got it done and can move on to Richmond with almost two full weeks to work off the rust.
8 Army LW: 10
Games: 18-6 W Vs. UMass
National Poll: 13
My expectations for UMass are definitely lower than they have been in years past, but this was a great game by Army. It should be much of the same on Tuesday against NJIT, but Saturday’s date with Rutgers will be a better indicator of where they stand. Their biggest stage as always will be the following week up in Syracuse.
9 UNC LW: 11
Games: 17-10 W Vs. Lafayette; 15-14 W Vs. Furman
National Poll: 14
The win over Furman perhaps gave more people in the lacrosse world pause than anything else. They still came out with the win, but it was very 2017 Syracuse-y. By that I mean “Sure they won, but….really?”. It’s still early, so they’ll get the benefit of the doubt for now.
10 Syracuse LW: 13
Games: 21-4 W Vs. Binghamton
National Poll: 7
Syracuse played some great lacrosse and never gave Binghamton a chance. This was their best opening game since about 2009, but it because clear pretty quickly that this would not really prepare them for next week’s game against Albany. Their defense will have much more of a workout and they will not be dominant in faceoffs. Syracuse fans have to be smiling looking forward though. They’re starting middie line of two sophomores and a freshman looked great.
11 Hopkins LW: 16
Games: 14-6 W Vs. Towson
National Poll: 8
Given that I thought Towson should have won this, I definitely thought it should have been closer. But Hopkins took over this game from the very beginning and never turned back. Kyle Marr’s second quarter performance should make other team on the Jays’ schedule uneasy. That’s was a dominant stretch for the junior.
12 Penn State LW: 9
Games: 17-16 L Vs. Villanova; 15-8 W Vs. Hobart
National Poll: 16
Penn State’s opening loss to Villanova was certainly not to script. Villanova is much improved over last season, but that is still a game I expected them to win. Things were definitely back on track with Hobart. Mac O’Keefe went from 2 goals and no assists against ‘Nova to 5-1 against Hobart. The more productive he is, the better Penn State’s offense is running.
13 Towson LW: 7
Games: 14-6 L Vs. Hopkins
National Poll: 19
I finally gave Towson the benefit of the doubt and then they go and get blown up by Hopkins. Fine. Whatever. The graduation of the offensive end are a much bigger hole to fill than I thought it would be and their defense did not keep it close, either. That said, I still like what I saw out of Zach Goodrich. He can still be a difference maker going forward.
14 UVA LW: 20
Games: 13-12 W Vs. Loyola
National Poll: 10
The season-opening matchup with Loyola has become appointment viewing as it has resulted in a one goal game every year since it started in 2014, except for one. That one game was also the only time Loyola has won, and it was the same year (2016) the Greyhounds went to the final four. I thought Loyola should have won this game, but it also won’t make me launch UVA into my top 10, either.
15 Loyola LW: 12
Games: 13-12 L Vs. UVA
National Poll: 12
I finally got one right! Loyola started hot with a few quick goals down in Charlottesville, but ultimately lost in double overtime. That hot start was absolutely due to the efforts of Pat Spencer who is certainly not in the mood to do anything but live up to his preseason hype. Loyola looked good, so I’m not dropping them much for the loss on the road.
16 Marquette LW: 15
Games: Did not play.
National Poll: 20
17 Rutgers LW: 18
Games: 11-7 W Vs. RMU; 12-8 W Vs. St. John’s
National Poll: 11
We knew Rutgers was going to struggle a little bit to start the season, so I think they’re on a good pace. They’re winning the games they should and will keep improving as their conference slate approaches. Army is not going to be a fun game, though. Their offense will need to really kick it into a higher gear to keep up.
18 Hofstra LW: 19
Games: Did not play
National Poll: Not Ranked
Apparently nobody else is feeling Hofstra. That’s fine. With them at 18, I won’t lose sleep over it, especially without a game yet.
19 Providence LW: 14
Games: 12-11 L Vs. BU; 9-6 W Vs. Holy Cross
National Poll: Not Ranked
I really like the look of the Friars in their loss to BU. Their defense was aggressive and they pushed for transition goals every chance they had. Those are areas that they need to build from to make a good run in the Big East. Keeping Holy Cross to just six goals was good, but I would have like to see more production from their offense in that one.
20 Villanova LW: UR
Games: 17-16 W Vs. Penn State
National Poll: 15
After Richmond’s loss to UMBC, I dropped them from the top 20 and had the choice of BU or Villanova. I went with Nova, but BU is right on the edge. Their opening win over Penn State was quite showing. I loved BU’s win over Providence, but following that up with the loss to Ohio State didn’t help them out.
Who did I leave out?
Princeton at 18 and Brown at 17. I think both of these teams will see the top 20 this season at some point, but I don’t feel them right now. Princeton has some serious playmakers. The thing is they need to replace Zach Currier, who did more for his team than anyone in the country over the past few years. He can’t be replaced by a single player, but I would look for Austin Sims to try to fill the “do it all” role. If anyone can do it, it’s Sims! Brown also lost some huge names, headlined by Dylan Molloy and Larken Kemp, and need to “re-find” themselves. On top of that, if I’m going to put a second Ivy in the top 20, I’m probably looking at Harvard first at the moment.
I will be back each week sharing my poll votes and thoughts on the top 20, so keep asking questions! Is this poll serious? We’re getting there!